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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 November 2006, 09:24 GMT
England prepared for Ashes - Bell
Ian Bell
Bell looks in good form ahead of the Tests against Australia
England batsman Ian Bell says the tourists are ready to begin the defence of the Ashes after three warm-up games.

Bell hit a century in the draw with South Australia, which followed defeat by a Prime Minister's XI and a draw with a strong New South Wales team.

"It was a tough start in Canberra but we got better in Sydney and started really well in this game," he said.

"We can take positives out of it and go to Brisbane confident. We've started to peak and move in the right direction."

Bell's 132 on day two helped England amass 415, before South Australia finished on 164-2 on Sunday.

The last 12 months have gone fantastically for me and I don't need to got out and prove too much to anyone

Bell on facing the Aussies

In his only previous knock on tour he was dismissed for a second-ball duck against New South Wales and the 24-year-old was relieved to get some runs under his belt batting at three.

It is the position he is likely to occupy against Australia in the first Test on Thursday.

"It's what I needed. Things have gone really well in the nets but you do need some time in the middle," he explained.

606 DEBATE: How will you keep up with the Ashes action?

"It is one of the top spots to bat in and a challenge but something I'm looking forward to. It's a position I would like to bat for England and cement myself at the top of the order."

The Warwickshire youngster endured a torrid time in last year's Ashes series, making only 171 runs in five Tests although England triumphed 2-1.

It's a series we'll remember for a long time and great to be a part of

Bell on the Ashes

His performances since have been impressive, particularly the three centuries he made in as many Tests against Pakistan this summer, and he insists he has no extra motivation to show the Aussies what he is capable of.

"I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself. The last 12 months have gone fantastically for me and I don't need to go out and prove too much to anyone," Bell added.

"I think I'm a better player now than when I started. That confidence of believing I can play at this level is a lot more now.

"It would be nice to score hundreds but I'm just looking forward to a great series.

"It's been a huge build-up, exciting and good fun. It's a series we'll remember for a long time and it's great to be a part of it.


South Australia paceman Jason Gillespie praised Bell for his innings but warned him that life will be much tougher at the Gabba.

"He was pretty composed but, with all due respect, it's a tour match and comparing a tour match with the excitement and hype of a Test match is apples and oranges," he insisted.

"Bell looked very relaxed and batted very well out there. He was very patient and did a good job for his team.

"But, again, get guys in a Test-match environment and you don't know how they're going to react, do you?"





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